As consumers are spending more and more of their online time on social networking pages as opposed to traditional brand websites, many business experts are now recommending that businesses incorporate
Facebook has made a huge impact online: there are now over 100 million monthly visitors to the site, and this figure is on the increase. While some businesses are beginning to use social networking sites in their marketing efforts, most business experts say that few companies are investing enough time and effort to make the most of this opportunity.
The benefit of Facebook, and other social networking sites, is that businesses can communicate directly with their customers. This provides an enormous marketing opportunity for brands, but it is crucial, say the business experts, to ‘get it right’.
There are a few key rules that are critical to making good use of sites like Facebook for marketing. Firstly, according to the business experts, consumers do not want to be advertised at. Instead, consumers want conversation, and they want businesses to add value to that conversation. Once you become known as a ‘good brand’ online, consumers will begin to start spreading the word for you, according to business experts.
Next, business experts caution that it takes more than simply having a high number of contacts online to leverage social networking benefits for your business. You need to ensure that you have a quality connection with each individual friend online otherwise you will risk not appearing genuine.
With the increasing popularity of social networking sites, some business experts are even questioning the need for traditional brand based websites. If you can build your branded social network page, they say, then you may not need the traditional website.
The run up to Christmas, 2008 has seen e-commerce become the focus for retailers across the UK.In the light of rising costs and consumers reigning in their spending to save money, the Internet is now seen as the place of choice for consumers, for comparisons and significant savings. Internet marketing for e-commerce sites has become the chosen method of promoting retail businesses.
“With Internet marketing and digital advertising budgets increasing, traditional advertising is being replaced by cost-effective, targeted, digital advertising and marketing campaigns”,
The credit crunch recession has seen closures of retail outlets, both in London and across the United Kingdom, leading to an increase in Internet sales with the Internet being viewed as the buyer’s market.
The UK’s Office for National Statistics (ONS) reported that between May and June 2008, retail sales volumes fell by 3.9%, the largest monthly drop since records began in 1986.
Yet online sales have been strong. In fact, Internet sales may be rising more rapidly than anticipated because hard-pressed consumers are determined to find value for money. Also, the rocketing cost of fuel means many shoppers are cutting visits to brick-and-mortar stores and turning to the Web instead.
Major online retailers are realising that to maintain a presence in the market, they need to offer true multichannel shopping and delivery/return options, as well as value for money. This strategy ensures they will gain and keep their market share in the future. The businesses that are not moving towards Internet marketing, and digital advertising, for whom traditional print or broadcast advertising is now too expensive, are likely to stagnate or go out of business.
Bring in the humans
To this point, the Web has been, by its nature, technology driven. Google is the most successful company of the Internet era thanks to its algorithm, a piece of technology adept at sorting the wheat from the chaff. Most of the leaps and bounds online have been in the realm of technology, whether it’s ad networks deciding marketing message placement by sniffing out users’ prior behavior or finely tuned measurement. Expect more advancement on those fronts, yet a greater emphasis on giving digital marketing a human face.
The algorithm is already getting a human touch with sites like Buzzfeed and Mahalo. Even Google is coming around to this notion by letting users tell it which sites are more relevant to them, a seemingly small step but one unthinkable for the engineer-driven Google just a couple years ago. New tools like Twitter will only increase the drive for people to connect with people, not just faceless entities. This will challenge marketing organizations and agencies, since humans don’t scale as easily as computers. The launch-and-forget mentality will need to give way to a 24 x 7 approach.
“There’s going to a big wake-up call for brands that the real work begins after the launch,” said David Armano, vp of experience design at digital agency Critical Mass. He sees cause marketing via social networks as a useful bridge to brands looking to infuse their mass reach ad tactics with a human touch.
Social measures up
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s prediction that media would forever change with the advent of the popular social network’s ad platform is rightly ridiculed. Yet while advertisers have few success stories on sites like Facebook, the growth of the social Web is impossible to ignore. Facebook now adds a new user every seven seconds.
For all its growth and hype, social media has been unforgiving terrain for marketers. Their efforts to date have been decidedly experimental, consisting of sponsorships, ad placements or brand applications that have proven ineffective. “Whenever you try to apply a standard ad model to a social dynamic, it’s like oil and water,” said Sean Finnegan, chief digital officer at Starcom MediaVest Group.
Instead, look for marketers to weave social programs throughout their marketing, using free tools to monitor their brand health and respond to customer needs. Comcast, a brand with no shortage of detractors, has scored a rare win with customers by dedicating an employee to handle customer problems on micro-blogging network Twitter. Expect more brands to follow suit, not just on Twitter but throughout the social Web of blogs and other two-way media.
“The best way is to dig in and monitor what people are saying,” said Noah Brier, head of strategy at digital marketing firm Barbarian Group. “It can only help you.”
As budgets tighten, media such as display ads will come under scrutiny.
There are two schools of thought when it comes to how digital advertising will fare in the grip of a recession. On the one hand, optimists see tight budgets accelerating the shift from less measurable traditional media into more targeted digital channels. The pessimists, however, point out that stagnant budgets affect all marketing, even if digital outlets fare better.
Against this backdrop, experts expect marketers will continue to push for new ways to reach audiences through digital channels. Tried-and-true methods like search marketing look to remain stable, while advertisers pay more attention to getting more solid metrics on how consumers were influenced before they type a query into a search box.
That means old school methods like display ads and microsites will come under pressure. Social media looks set to remain on the top of advertisers’ agendas, as they look to apply the lessons of their early missteps in the area while adding real measurement to what have been experimental forays to date. As the Internet becomes more social, there will likewise be an acceleration of a move from purely technical implementations to using the Web’s emerging social infrastructure to connect on a more human level.
According to researcher eMarketer, online ad spending will climb 8.9 percent next year, from $23.6 billion to $25.7 billion. Back in August, just prior to Wall Street’s meltdown, eMarketer predicted that spending would surge 14 percent in 2009. But the economy is now taking its toll on all segments of media. Here is a roundup of how that spending may pan out:
Display ad blues
The Web has moved well beyond its former role as a place where banner ads and microsites are used to support the real meat of the offline marketing. Nowadays, the most high-profile campaigns are centered on the Web. Take “Whopper Virgins,” the latest Burger King push from Crispin Porter + Bogusky. The centerpiece is a Web film, which is then spliced into components for traditional media. What’s more, the push has relied on the viral buzz of blogs and other digital outlets as much as big-money media buys.
Those type of efforts will put pressure on “traditional” digital efforts like run of the mill banner ads pumped out through ad networks and Flash microsites without any compelling reason for anyone to visit.
Forrester Research expects display ads to come under the scrutiny of tight-fisted marketers uncertain of their effectiveness.
Pricing is expected to rise just 8 percent after several years of uninterrupted, solid expansion. “The financial pressure will be severe,” said Dave Morgan, a former AOL executive. “When you take out big chunks of money, it’s not just the spend that disappears but also the competition.”
There is no doubt that internet marketing is a great way to sell products and services to make a lot of money. There is also no doubt that the internet is flooded with competition and you will need to do your internet marketing well in order to stand out from the crowd and claim you fortune. Many, many people try to market products on the internet unsuccessfully. In fact, for every five websites on the internet that are doing well there are ninety-five that are failing.
Not the best odds, but the good news is that you can be one of the three if you take the time to learn proper internet marketing techniques. Learning how to do something right often means discovering a lot of ways to do it wrong first and so to save you some time, here is a list of the top three mistakes that internet marketers make:
1. Not providing high-quality content on their site. Many people think you can just write a sentence or two about each product and create a “pretty” website and people will want to buy from them. There are two problems with this technique: first of all, getting a good search engine ranking is what will drive customers to your site and good content with the right keyword density is necessary to get a high search engine ranking. And secondly, once a person clicks to your site they expect to see some content. Good content will draw them in and keep them on your page long enough to entice them to make a purchase.
2. Using only one method of internet marketing. Too many would-be internet marketers focus all their attention on just one method of internet marketing. That is the equivalent of putting all your eggs in one basket, if the bottom falls out you’re screwed. Using multiple internet marketing techniques allows customers to find you in a variety of ways like through search engine results, email marketing, article marketing and forum posts. The funny thing is that as you use different methods they boost your main goal of increasing search engine traffic at the same time.
3. Choosing an irrelevant product. Before you spend massive amounts of time and money doing internet marketing for a product you may love it is highly important that you find out if there is a market for it. If nobody wants to buy your product you can market ’til the cows come home and have the number one spot in the search engine rankings for your keyword, but if nobody is buying that it isn’t going to matter. You also want to choose a product where the market isn’t completely flooded already. In either case, it is vital that you do some research before you start your internet marketing campaign.
Avoiding these top three mistakes will help you get your internet marketing campaign off to a good start. Do your research and provide your customers with top-quality information and you will be on the right track for success in internet marketing.
Just about everybody in the Internet marketing world has a get-rich-quick scheme these days. Start looking around and you’ll find dozens of so-called “gurus” who are willing to share their techniques with you for some cash. The problem with these guys is that they often don’t even practice the techniques they offer.
They just make money selling books and the techniques they offer really don’t have real-world applications. They can offer you platitudes about what to do to create a successful Internet business but not a real money-making technique.
When it comes to Search Engine Optimization, commonly known as SEO, most aspiring Internet Marketers think immediately of Google Ad words. The problem is, you may be thinking of Ad words, but so is everyone else. Google has wisely caught on to this and have appropriately raised their rates, making them untenable for many. Couple that with the new regulations coming down the pipe from Google and you have some serious problems.
One of our SEO clients is getting more than his money’s worth. In fact, I should be charging him loads more money than I am, but he is getting a whole lot extra work for free.
How does he do it? Am I a sucker? Maybe I am, but there is a method to his madness, even if he does not know it.
You see, the biggest complaint from professional SEO consultants is that clients do not follow up on their recommendations.
A company might pay anywhere form $1500 to $50,000 for an SEO consultant to review their website and make recommendations, ready to follow up with additional action, but… but… but…nothing happens.
In one survey of SEOs, 60% were frustrated by lack of follow-up by the client. This not only wastes the company’s consulting dollars, but it often prevents the SEO consultant from doing anything further to advance the company’s rankings.
My client, the one I mentioned above, is just the opposite. He eagerly seeks out information and I swear he passes what we call in French “nuits blanches” (look it up) following through and coming back with more questions, ideas and follow-through.
It makes his project exciting and, yes, he gets more out of me than he is paying for.
You know that old adage ”You get out of life what you put in”? It works for SEO consultants, too…at least those who get passionate about what they are doing.
So my question for anyone reading this who plans to hire an SEO consultant, are you passionate about your website? Will you get your SEO consultant to be just as passionate about it?
What trends should internet marketers look for in 2009? I’ve decided to list some of my thoughts on changes in the industry for the coming year, what to expect and emerging marketing opportunities.
Social Media Tools – Just as social media marketing has become more popular over the last few years, so has the need for tools to help marketers manage this space. I expect more analytical and management tools for marketers to help make business sense of social media.
Closed Networks – Google will continue to be the major player in search, but do not underestimate closed networks (LinkedIn) and smaller players that fit a niche. Closed networks will continue to grow and may offer more opportunity to reach your target audience.
Internet TV – I have been hyping online TV services like Joost and Hulu for the past year. This will be the year for internet TV in my opinion. Services have jumped through some technical hurdles and now offer respectable performance over a broadband connection. Entertainment is becoming more personalized, so it only makes sense to watch what you want when you want.
Mobile Marketing – Now that we have more advanced mobile networks and devices (iPhone 3G and G2), companies are beginning to invest in mobile applications that compliment their online experience. Many of these applications will enable real time interaction with product and services. What was cocktail conversation a couple years ago will now become a reality for many mobile consumers.
What trends do you think will be the big movers in 2009?
President-elect Barack Obama’s top asset in pushing his agenda will not be his Cabinet secretaries or aides, but rather his online network. Obama’s political e-mail list tops 13 million names, a digital force that the incoming White House can tap to push for his legislation, tamp down critics or bolster popular support. It’s also a way for Obama to reach into every state, every city, and every neighborhood.
A study released Tuesday found that a quarter of Obama voters said they would continue to work online to support the new administration. The nonpartisan Pew Internet and American Life Project also found 62 percent of Obama’s voters say they would ask others to support Obama’s policies.
Welcome to the Democrats’ new permanent campaign, one planned online and executed on Main Street.